If you’ve been to any modern office setting, you’ve probably noticed something.
Gone are the corner offices. Walls are a thing of the past.
The hot thing for today’s office is the open office.
There’s a lot that can be said for this kind of layout, but first let’s take a look at the downside of having an open office layout.
The Dark Side Of Open Offices
The above inforgraphic gives us a new look at the concept of an open office. While there can be amazing benefits from an office that is open, there are also unappealing aspects to this office layout.
- Employees are more likely to get sick – With everyone working in a communal area, employees are interacting more often. It’s likely your team is working closer than ever before and they’re touching each other’s workspaces in ever increasing amounts.
What does this mean? When people are sick, they’re passing on germs. Germs that make people sick.
That means your people are more likely to come down with the common flu, or something worse.
- Employees have a harder time concentrating – Your employees are sitting closer to each other. There are no walls for privacy. This is a recipe for constant interaction and distraction.
With no walls, your team will feel it’s okay to shout out a co-workers name to grab their attention. What they fail to realize is that the other co-worker may be on the phone or doing work that requires deep concentration.
These constant distractions are productivity killers for those who are working.
- Employees see an increase in stress – A surprising result of open office layouts is the increase in employee stress.
Because of the close proximity to other employees and the lack of privacy, employees are stressed. They’re on guard that they’ll be interrupted or worse.
- Employees feel more disconnected from the executive team – The executive team will often tout the benefits of an open office. They’ll tell their teams of all the great benefits.
And then they’ll shut themselves off by staying in their private offices.
Employees see the hypocrisy. They wonder why if this new layout is good for the goose, why is it not good for the gander?
This makes them feel disconnected and less valued by the higher-ups.
The Upside Of Open Offices
Having open office space isn’t always bad. In fact, it can be extremely helpful. here are a few benefits of open office space.
- Employees are close to their teammates – This may seem like an oxymoron since some of the downsides of no private offices is that employees are so close to each other. But there’s an upside to this.
With employees so close to each other, they get to know each other a lot better. This creates a greater sense of unity within the team.
- Employees can tell who’s in and who’s out – The open-office floor plan allows for team members to easily see who’s in their office and who’s not. This cuts down on unnecessary phone calls and trips to private offices.
It’s a small benefit, but it is one…
What You Can Do To Mitigate The Downside Of Open Office Space
Since open office space isn’t as great as many corporate office planners proclaim, there are steps you can take to make it a better work environment.
Allow employees to choose how they work – No one knows the employee better than themselves. They know how and where they work best.
Trust them. Allow them to choose where they work, whether it’s in a private office or in an open office environment.
Create private work areas – Regardless of whether or not you’re going to go with an open office plan, you need to consider the need for privacy.
Members of your team will have to have private conversations, with each other and with customers. Design areas where employees can go to work in private.
Give the choice to work at home – Technology is amazing today. With the ability to have remote desktops on your servers, there is a great likelihood employees can do most, if not all, of their work from the comfort of their home.
Yes, this is a scary proposition. Yes, employees can take advantage of this.
However, there’s also the research that shows employees working from home feel more engaged and trusted when given the choice to work from home.
Creating an open office environment in your organization is a mixed bag. There are some amazing benefits from having your team all in the same area. At the same time, there’s also plenty of downsides to an open office.
Be wise in moving to such a layout. Survey the team, get their feedback, and choose to move forward from there.